Posts Tagged ‘Rail transit’

Light Rail Track Replacement Begins in Pittsburgh

October 5, 2016

New track is being installed on the light rail system in Pittsburgh this month near the Station Square area.

pittsburghThe construction involves replacing nearly 800 feet track. Between Oct. 3 and 22, service will be restricted in the Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel area. The track has reached the end of its useful life.

Inbound trains will detour across Arlington Avenue and outbound trains will continue to use the Mt. Washington Transit Tunnel.

A supplemental rail shuttle will operate between Station Square and Steel Plaza stations. It will also serve First Avenue Station.

The work is part of an $8.4 million reconstruction project to replace a mile of track along Broadway Avenue.

The rail line is operated by the Port Authority of Allegheny County.

Station Square is a former Pittsburgh & Lake Erie depot along the Monongahela River that is now a shopping and casino complex.

FAST Act Benefiting Rail Transit Agencies

January 25, 2016

A federal transportation bill passed by Congress last month and signed by President Obama has already stimulated investment in new equipment for public transportation agencies.

The five-year transportation spending authorization bill, known as Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, authorizes $305 billion in funding for transportation programs through fiscal year 2020.

It had been a decade since Congress adopted a multi-year transportation funding authorization bill and public transportation agencies say the FAST Act will give them a longer horizon on which to plan capital projects.

“The new bill includes several provisions that should be good for the U.S. transit industry and, therefore, for Wabtec,” said Richard Betler, Wabtec President and CEO in an interview with Railway Age.

Betler said the bill calls for a 10.2 percent funding increase in its first year and additional increases in future years.

He said there is a backlog of transit projects around the world and his company along with such suppliers as Alstom Transport, Bombardier Transit Corp., Brookville Equipment, CAF USA, Kawasaki Railcar USA, Kinkisharyo, Siemens, and China’s CNR Changchun are busy filling equipment orders for several public transportation agencies across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Railway Age has put the railcar backlog at 5,701 units worth an estimated $1.2 billion.

Much of that market is for cars for such agencies as the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Bay Area Rapid Transit, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority and the Toronto Transit Commission.

New Jersey Transit is expected to place orders for more than 500 cars and issue a request for proposals of 113 electric multiple-unit multi-level cars.

Amtrak is planning to buy new equipment to replace that used by its Acela Express in the Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington.

Through 2021, transit agencies that responded to a Railway Age survey said they are eyeing placing orders for as many as 4,500 new and rebuilt transit vehicles.

Last year, 24 transit agencies took delivery of 971 cars, which was the fourth-highest total in 10 years.

Catherine Connor, manager of federal government affairs at WSP|Parsons Brinckerhoff said in an interview with Railway Age that funding for Amtrak and transit in the FACT Act will come from the general fund and is dependent on annual appropriations.

Much of that funding will be doled out according to a formula, but there are new discretionary grant programs, such as a bus and bus facilities grant program, a nationally significant freight and highway projects grant program, and three small passenger rail grant programs.

Connor called the FAST Act a step in the right direction because it provides a five-year federal commitment and therefore much-needed stability and certainty for transportation agencies.

“The private sector can help  . . . with innovative technologies, creative solutions, and by sharing project risk,” Connor said.

The FAST Act also represented the first time that passenger rail programs had been part of a federal surface transportation bill, which Connor said will help to put rail programs on equal footing with the traditional highway and transit programs.

Cleveland RTA to Build New Brookpark Station

April 7, 2015
An architect's drawing of the new Brookpark station to be built for Greater Cleveland RTA.

An architect’s drawing of the new Brookpark station to be built for Greater Cleveland RTA.

Greater Cleveland RTA plans to replace the 46-year-old Brookpark rail station on its Red Line.

The new station will cost $11.4 million and feature entrances on its east and west sides as well as a tunnel under the adjacent Norfolk Southern tracks to reach the station’s parking lot.

With 1,400 daily patrons, Brookpark is the second busiest station on the RTA rail network, trailing only the hub at Tower City in downtown Cleveland.

The Brookpark station also serves four RTA bus routes linking southwest Cuyahoga County with the Red Line.

“We cobbled together the money to do this,” said RTA General Manager Joe Calabrese, noting that the plan had been in the works for years.

The new station design was completed in 2008 by Cleveland-based architecture firm Bialosky + Partners. Two years ago RTA paved the station’s parking lot.

The last stop on the Red Line before Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, the new Brookpark station’s entrances will remain open during the 24-month reconstruction. A ribbon-cutting for the project will be held on April 9.

The project also includes new landscaping, wider sidewalks, improved passenger waiting areas, additional lighting, a new elevator, and security systems and cameras. The building will be ADA compliant.

Given it’s proximity to the airport and two interstate highways, RTA has been studying using some of the 15.5 acres of the station site for  other uses.

RTA officials are eyeing such transit-oriented development as a mixture of residential and commercial uses.

“If somebody wants to do something there, we’ll work with them,” said Maribeth Feke, RTA’s director of planning.

She said that the economic development departments of Brook Park and Cleveland have expressed interest in working with RTA to develop the site.

Brookpark is the second RTA rail station to be approved this year for renovation.

Earlier, RTA’s governing board agreed to rebuild the East 34th Street Station. Last year, RTA completed the rebuilding of a Red Line station near University Circle.

RTA wants to upgrade its station at East 79th Street, but lacks the funding to execute that project.

The prime contractor for the Brookpark station project will be Mid American Construction, a Cleveland-based firm that specializes in municipal, hospital and educational building construction.

Public Transit Use Rose to 58-Year High in 2014

March 10, 2015

The 10.8 billion trips taken on public transit in 2014 was the highest ridership level in 58 years, the American Public Transportation Association said on Monday. The figures included ridership on rail systems.

“Some public transit systems experienced all-time record high ridership last year,” said APTA Chair Phillip Washington. “This record ridership didn’t just happen in large cities. It also happened in small and medium size communities.”

APTA said that the gains came despite a decline of the price of gasoline of 42.9 cents in the fourth quarter.

“Despite the steep decline in gas prices at the end of last year, public transit ridership increased. This shows that once people start riding public transit, they discover that there are additional benefits besides saving money,” said APTA President and CEO Michael Melaniphy.

“People are changing their travel behavior and want more travel options,” Melaniphy said. “In the past people had a binary choice. You either took public transit, most likely a bus, or you drove a car. Now there are multiple options with subways, light rail, streetcars, commuter trains, buses, ferries, cars, and shared use vehicles.”

APTA said that from 1995 to 2014, public transit ridership increased by 39 percent, almost double the population growth, which was up 21 percent. The estimated growth of vehicle miles traveled was 25 percent.

Light rail (modern light rail, streetcars, trolleys, and heritage trolleys) ridership increased 3.6 percent in 2014, with 16 out of 28 public transit systems reporting increases.

Heavy rail (subways and elevated trains) ridership increased by 3.3 percent with eight out of 15 public transit systems reported increases.

Overall regional rail (termed by APTA as “commuter rail”) ridership rose 2.9 percent in 2014, as 22 out of 28 public transit systems recorded gains.

Bus ridership decreased nationally by 1.1 percent. However, in small and medium size population groups, bus ridership saw percentage increases of 2.0 and 0.5, respectively.

Demand (paratransit) ridership increased in 2014 by 0.2 percent while trolleybus ridership declined by 2.8 percent.